Kalkaji temple re-development plan: SC asks authorities not to dispossess priests from properties

06:52 PM Jun 13, 2022 | PTI |

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the authorities to not dispossess the priests, who have been residing in the vicinity of the Kalkaji temple premises here, from their properties while carrying out the re-development plan of the historic temple. A vacation bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Vikram Nath issued notice to the Centre and other parties on a plea filed by temple priests challenging the orders of the Delhi High Court and tagged the matter along with the pending petition. “In the meanwhile, there shall be no impediment for carrying out the re­-development as directed by High Court of Delhi through the orders impugned herein but such re­-development shall be without dispossessing the petitioners from the premises wherein they are stated to be residing at present”, it said. During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the temple priests said that they have all the revenue records which show they are in possession of such property for years which is also evident from the report of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. The counsel further said that it is a historical fact that priests of the temple normally used to reside in the vicinity of the temple and this is how it has been in this case also. He said that they are not against the re-development plan of the temple but their Dharamshalas and houses should not be demolished in the name of the redevelopment plan. The bench asked the counsel whether the land of the premises which they are claiming to be there is in their name or in the name of the deity. The counsel said that the properties are in their name and it can be seen from the report filed by the SDM before the court. The bench then tagged the petition and restrained the authorities from dispossessing the priests from the premises on which they are residing. On April 27, the top court had refused to grant status quo on a plea challenging the Delhi High Court’s verdict which has passed a slew of directions concerning the administration and maintenance of Kalkaji temple in South Delhi here. It had also refused to stay in the direction for the appointment of Justice (retd) JR Midha as the administrator of the temple to look after the day-to-day administration and the issue of safety and security of the temple.


On March 25, the top court refused to interfere with the High Court order directing the removal of encroachments and unauthorised occupants and shopkeepers, who do not have any valid legal rights to occupy the shops, in Kalkaji Temple.

It had said, “We are not inclined to entertain the plea. We grant liberty to the petitioners to move the administrator appointed by the High Court with their grievances and the administrator will place the report before the High Court for suitable directions”.

The top court had said, “In some matters, we need to trust our High Courts. We all have been judges of the High Court. We are not here as an appellate forum in every matter. The dignity of the deity must be preserved”.

On September 27, last year, the High Court had directed the removal of encroachments and unauthorised occupants and shopkeepers, who do not have any valid legal rights to occupy the shops, in Kalkaji Temple in South Delhi, and said the action be taken within five days keeping in view the forthcoming Navratri festival.


The high court had said it is essential for a temple, where thousands of devotees visit for conducting puja every day, irrespective of its public or private status, to be devoid of unauthorised encroachments which results in extreme inconvenience and safety and security concerns for the devotees.

It had appointed retired Delhi High Court judge, Justice (retd) J R Midha as the administrator of the Kalkaji Temple for performing various functions concerning the religious place.

The High Court had also appointed Goonmeet Singh Chauhan, a renowned Architect who has undertaken various projects of public importance, to submit a re-development plan for the Kalkaji Mandir and the entire surrounding complex and said he shall work closely with the Administrator and his team.

The court had said that the mandate of the administrator shall be to take all necessary steps in the interest of devotees, pilgrims, and baridaars (persons managing temple affairs), in order to ensure their safety and security, as also to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the deity and the mandir which is of utmost historical importance to the people of Delhi.

It had directed that all unauthorised occupants/encroachers, who do not enjoy valid tehbazari licences, and are in unauthorised occupation of the premises, would be liable to be removed, until and unless there is a court order protecting the occupant.


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